Want to better share your faith with non-Catholic family and friends? Then you’ll be excited to learn about Fr. Robert Barron’s newest book, Seeds of the Word: Finding God in the Culture, which just launched this week. Featuring over 80 essays by Fr. Barron, and a Foreword by Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the book teaches you how to detect “seeds of the Word” in today’s most popular films, books, and current events and use them as springboards to evangelization.
Below, you’ll find Fr. Barron’s entire Preface to the book, but before getting to that, we should note that today is DEFINITELY the day to pick up your copy.
If you buy the book today (Thursday, March 26) – either through the Word on Fire Store, Amazon, or any other outlet – and then email a copy of your receipt to [email protected], we’ll send you a FREE bonus PDF of “Fr. Barron’s Recommended Books.” This elegantly designed PDF contains over 75 of Fr. Barron’s top books, all aranged by category such as “Favorite Apologetics Books” and “Favorite Contemporary Books.” If you want to discover the top Catholics books on a particular topic, this is the guide you need.
(NOTE: If you’ve already order the book, you’re still eligble! Just follow the instructions below.)
But remember, you’ll only receive the PDF bonus if you purchase the book today! To receive your bonus PDF simply:
2. Email a copy of your receipt, or confirmation email, to [email protected].
3. Receive your FREE bonus PDF of “Fr. Barron’s Recommended Books.”
Preface to Seeds of the Word
Fr. Robert Barron
Just below the Parthenon and the Acropolis in Athens is a rocky outcropping called the Areopagus, which, in ancient times, functioned as a forum for the adjudication of legal disputes and the airing of philosophical opinions. To that place, sometime around 55 AD, came a man who had been trained in both the Greek and the Jewish traditions and who had a novel message to share. The Apostle Paul commenced, not with the news itself, but rather with an observation about the religiosity on display in the city: “You Athenians, I see that in every respect you are very religious. For as I walked around looking carefully at your shrines, I even discovered an altar inscribed ‘To an Unknown God.’” Christians have long taken Paul’s strategy on the Areopagus as a model for the evangelization of culture. Before sowing the Word, one looks for semina verbi (seeds of the word) already present among the people one seeks to evangelize. The wager is that, once these are uncovered, the Word of Christ will not seem so strange or alien. In the best case, a nonbeliever might come to see that he had, in fact, been worshipping Christ all along, though under the guise of an Unknown God.
I have been actively involved in the work of evangelizing the culture for over ten years. Sometimes, I think it is necessary to challenge deep moral dysfunction in the culture directly. For example, in the face of an abortion-on-demand philosophy, which permits a mother to eliminate a baby in her womb simply because she doesn’t care for another child of that gender, one can and should only shout, “No!” However, especially in our relativistic postmodern framework, commencing with moral prohibitions is often an evangelical nonstarter. Therefore, I have tended to begin my work by presenting features of the high or low culture that, sometimes faintly and sometimes powerfully, echo the Gospel message. Msgr. Robert Sokolowski, who taught me many years ago at Catholic University, shared an image that has long stayed in my mind. The integrated icon of Christian doctrine, he said, exploded at the time of the Reformation and the Enlightenment, and its charred and distorted fragments have landed here and there, littering the contemporary cultural environment. Accordingly, we are not going to find, at least very often, the whole Catholic thing on beautiful display, but we are indeed going to find bits and pieces of it practically everywhere, provided we have the eyes to see.
If the evangelist exercises his analogical imagination, he can see images of Jesus in Superman, Spiderman, and Andy Dufresne; he can sense the play between divine love and divine mercy in the strong arms of Rooster Cogburn; he can hear an echo of Augustine’s anthropology in the protagonist of Eat, Pray, Love; he can discern a powerful teaching on the danger of concupiscent desire in The Great Gatsby; he can sense a longing for the supernatural in The Exorcist and the Twilight series; he can pick up overtones of Jeremiah and Isaiah in Bob Dylan; he can hear the voice that spoke to Job out of the whirlwind in the Coen Brothers’ A Serious Man; and he can appreciate one of the most textured presentations of Christian soteriology in Clint Eastwood’s Gran Torino. Are any of these adequate presentations of the Word as such? Hardly. But are they all semina verbi, seeds of the Word?
And thus can they, like the altar to the Unknown God in ancient Athens, provide a foundation for evangelization, a way in, a point of departure?
The short pieces gathered in this collection represent one Catholic evangelist’s attempt to sow the seed of the Gospel in the contemporary culture. There is a “journalistic” and therefore somewhat ephemeral quality to these essays, since they deal with issues, films, books, and events of a very particular time. But I hope that they nevertheless convey something of the timeless truth of the Good News and that they, however inadequately, provide a model for how proclaimers of the Gospel might go about their work on the Areopagus.